Friday, July 29, 2016

My Thoughts on Call The Midwife, series 3

 Call the Midwife, series 3
1 Christmas special + 8 episodes

Jenny Lee = Jessica Raine
Trixie Franklin = Helen George
Cynthia Miller = Bryony Hannah
Chummy (Camilla Fortescue-Cholmondeley-Browne) = Miranda Hart
Sister Julienne = Jenny Agutter
Sister Monica Joan = Judy Parfitt
Sister Evangelina = Pam Ferris
Shelagh Turner = Laura Main
Dr. Patrick Turner = Stephen McGann
Timothy Turner = Max Macmillan
PC Peter Noakes = Ben Caplan
Fred Buckle = Cliff Parisi
Alec Jesmond = Leo Staar
Tom Hereward = Jack Ashton
Patsy Mount = Emerald Fennell
Sister Winifred = Victoria Yeates

Season three is the last season with Jenny Lee. That may be one of the more notable things about this season in retrospect. (We also see a lot less Chummy after this season. I know she makes no appearance at all in series 5, and, I'm not sure how much she's around in series 4. But I think she is some at least.) 

Shelagh. Last season's finale saw Shelagh become engaged in Dr. Turner. In the Christmas Special, these two were due to be married near Christmas. But DRAMA, DRAMA, DRAMA. This episode has so much drama. Much of it being caused by the discover of an unexploded German bomb left over from the war. And then there's POLIO. This is such a heart-felt episode. How is it possible to care so much about fictional characters on a TV show?

Episode one. New Nonnatus House. New Sister midwife. I really, really like Sister Winifred although it takes a few episodes to come into her own and feel like she BELONGS. In this episode, Chummy helps deliver a baby in an emergency, and is asked to come back to work part-time as a midwife.

Episode two. Cynthia and Sister Evangelina are in conflict over "new" methods to help mothers during childbirth...Jenny gets a promotion....and viewers meet Doris a pregnant woman who is between a rock and a hard place.

Episode three. Trixie and Sister Julienne temporarily take on prison duties and serve pregnant prisoners. Sister Julienne becomes especially close to one of the young girls, and, becomes a character witness of sorts. The young woman desperately wants to keep her baby and not be forced to give it up for adoption. Trixie--well, good news, she meets Tom...and the bad news, well, she gets LICE. Shelagh and Dr. Turner learn that she cannot have children. Already several episodes this season are about adoption. So it's easy to see where this might be heading.

Episode four. The beginning of the end for Jenny's time at Nonnatus House. Alec Jesmond is in a horrible accident. PC Peter Noakes is one of the first responders, also, I believe Dr. Turner is as well. They know him as Jenny's boyfriend, making it even more difficult. They KNOW it is really bad. Bad news, the two had been fighting that day. Good news, they do get the chance to make up.

Episode five, Shelagh is back working in an administrative role at least. And sister Julianne and Jenny are both away. Nurse Patsy Mount, now a midwife, joins Nonnatus House full-time. Sister Evangelina has a jubilee party. But she has to be tricked into attending. This celebration is all the more meaningful the second time around. (If you've seen season five, you know exactly why). The pregnancy case is very troubling in this episode.

Episode six, Trixie goes on her first date with Tom. But it does not go according to plan. Shelagh and Dr. Turner begin to look into what it would take to adopt a child...and viewers get to know a little more about the newest midwife, Nurse Mount.

Episode seven, this one has DRAMA and then some. Chummy's mother comes to town. Chummy, at first, thinks this is a visit. But several things soon come to light. Her parents are separated now, her mother doesn't have much money, and she is in a LOT OF PAIN, as she has terminal cancer. Chummy has about a hundred emotions at any given moment. And it's up to Peter to know what to do. His strength in this episode and the next are AMAZING. He is such a good, good guy. Sister Julienne and Cynthia, not to be left out, deal with a VERY VERY VERY mentally troubled woman after delivery.

Episode eight, Shelagh and Dr. Turner get GREAT news during this episode. But poor Chummy spends this episode in turmoil and angst. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Sister Monica Joan in this episode. And Jenny is supportive as well. These two cluster around Chummy and her mother and it's just beautiful to watch. Painful but beautiful. Jenny--who came back in episode seven--decides to stop being a midwife and switch to what we would now call hospice care. She does help deliver a baby in this episode, I believe, and her patient's cousin, I believe, is PHILIP WORTH, her future husband. This is young Jenny's last appearance in the show.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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The Journey That Saved Curious George

The Journey That Saved Curious George. Louise Borden. 2016. HMH. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: For many years, I was intrigued by the story of Margret and H.A. Rey's flight from Paris on bicycles in June 1940.

Premise/plot: This children's nonfiction book is just right for elementary readers. It begins by providing background and context for young readers. Hans Augusto Reyersbach and Margarete Waldstein grew up in Germany. Both were Jewish. At some point in the 1920s, he moves to Rio de Janeiro. She follows a little while after. They meet again there, and fall in love. Paris is one of the stops on their honeymoon--they are Brazilian citizens now--and Paris is where they decide to remain. They work many happy years together in Paris. But their work--and their lives--are threatened when World War II goes from being something you read about in the papers--to something happening a few miles outside the city limits.

As Jews, they are at great risk if they remain in Paris and Paris is captured by the Nazis. But. For better or worse. They waited a little too long to leave the city...in an easy way. The last rush sees them desperate to find two bicycles. I believe the book says he had to build the bicycles himself from parts. But it isn't just a story about saving the authors' lives, it's a book celebrating the manuscript that would become Curious George. That was one of the possessions that they took with them--on their bikes. Of course what you may not know is that "George" wasn't George just yet. The monkey was originally called Fifi. And publishers had already agreed to publish the book before they made their flight...

The book focuses on H.A. and Margret Rey, their work as writers, and how the war effected their lives.

My thoughts: This is a very enjoyable read. I loved how the author was able to reconstruct their lives and give readers a behind-the-scenes look into the writing and illustrating of books. The book felt personal, but, always appropriate.

I would definitely recommend this one.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Between Shades of Gray

Between Shades of Gray. Ruta Sepetys. 2011. Penguin. 352 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: They took me in my nightgown. Thinking back, the signs were there--family photos burned in the fireplace, Mother sewing her best silver and jewelry into the lining of her coat late at night, and Papa not returning from work. My younger brother, Jonas, was asking questions. I asked questions, too, but perhaps I refused to acknowledge the signs. Only later did I realize that Mother and Father intended we escape. We did not escape. We were taken. 

Premise/plot: I'm tempted to not give any premise or plot at all. To just say: READ THIS BOOK. But I'm not sure that's exactly fair. While, I do think this book should be read WIDELY, I think it's only fair to tell you a little bit about what to expect. It's set in 1941 in Lithuania. Lina, the heroine, and her family are in a difficult position. They're trapped between two worst-case-scenarios: Stalin, on one side, and Hitler on the other. No matter which "wins" control over Lithuania, Lina and her family--and so many others--are in great danger.

The book opens with Lina's family being arrested. It doesn't get any cheerier from that point. Lina, her mother, and her brother, Jonas, take the reader on quite an emotional journey. It's an incredible read, partly set in Siberia as well, which is where these 'prisoners' end up.

My thoughts: This was a reread for me. There is a companion book newly released this year starring Lina's cousin Joana. The companion book is set at much closer to the end of World War II. I read Salt to the Sea not really realizing its connection with Between Shades of Gray. It worked. So if you do read the books out of order, that is okay. But definitely I think you'll want to read both books.

I love this one. I do. I love the characterization. I really, really, really love Lina. And I love Andrius as well. Just because there is a tiny bit of romance, don't mistake this one for a proper ROMANCE. It's so much more than that. It's a fight for survival, and, a fight for DIGNITY. It is very bittersweet. But if you're looking for a book you can't put down, this one is it.


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Listening to George, CONCLUSION

This will be the last post for my George Strait Project. I thought I would make a few lists, answer a few questions, etc.

One word to describe George Strait's music: TIMELESS
Some phrases to describe his music: consistently high quality;  forever true to himself, true to tradition; western swing at its best! makes you want to sing and dance!
Was the project fun? Yes, for the most part.
Did I get tired of George by the end of July? More than I thought I would be. I thought it would be impossible to have too much George in your life.
Did I only listen to George Strait? That's how I started out the month. But by the end, I was ready for a little distance and some other artists to listen to.
Would I recommend this project for someone else? Yes. But I would suggest spreading it out throughout a six month or even a year period. You could cover two to three albums per month and get it done in a year.
Would I be interested in doing another chronological project? Yes, probably. I'm not sure WHO at this point. And it will probably not be any time soon. I am also not sure if I'd ever devote that many posts to music at Becky's Book Reviews. Though if it were to be a year-long project, one post per month wouldn't be seen as quite the invasion that George became!!!
Which albums are MUSTS? If you were to only have TWO albums in your collection--say you have zero George Strait at the moment--then definitely 50 Number Ones (2004) and and 22 More Hits (2007). That would give you 72 of his best songs.
Favorite album from the 1980s? Probably Ocean Front Property. I really LOVE that one.
Favorite singles from the 1980s? Fool Hearted Memory, Amarillo by Morning, You Look So Good In Love, The Cowboy Rides Away, The Chair, Nobody In His Right Mind Would Have Left Her, Baby Blue, Ace in the Hole, Am I Blue, Famous Last Words of a Fool, Ocean Front Property, It Ain't Cool To Be Crazy About You, etc.
Favorite songs from the 1980s that were never released as singles? Friday Night Fever, 80 Proof Bottle of Tear Stopper, Dance Time in Texas, My Heart Won't Wander Very Far From You, You Can't Buy Your Way Out of the Blues...
Favorite album from the 1990s? I don't think I could ever, ever, ever choose. I might could come up with a top three albums from the 1990s...Livin' It Up (1990); Lead On (1994); One Step at A Time (1998).
Favorite singles from the 1990s? You Know Me Better Than That; Easy Come, Easy Go; The Big One; Check Yes or No; Lead On; Blue Clear Sky; One Night at a Time; I Just Want To Dance With You; We Really Shouldn't Be Doing This; Write This Down.
Favorite songs from the 1990s never released as singles?  Someone Had to Teach You; She Loves Me (She Don't Love You); Is It Already Time; You're Right, I'm Wrong; Baby Your Baby; Stay Out My Arms; I Wasn't Fooling Around; Nobody Has To Get Hurt; That's Me (Every Chance I Get); Real Good Place to Start; That's Where I Want To Take Our Love; Always Never The Same.
Favorite album from the 2000s? I'm torn between Twang (2009) and Honkytonkville (2003).
Favorite singles from the 2000s? Don't Make Me Comve Over There and Love You, Troubadour, Twang.
Favorite songs from the 2000s that were never released as singles? Honk if You Honky Tonk, I Found Jesus on the Jailhouse Floor, She Used to Say That To Me, Texas Cookin', It Was Me, Where Have I Been All My Life
Favorite album from the 2010s? Cold Beer Conversation
Favorite singles from the 2010s? I Got A Car; Drinkin' Man; Here for a Good Time.
Favorite songs from the 2010s never released as singles? Three Nails and a Cross, I'll Always Remember You, It was Love, Take Me To Texas, It Takes All Kinds.

Country Music Is....
  1. No more late nights, comin' in at daylight, and no more doin' you wrong.
  2. Nickels and dimes, memories and wines - she's on his mind once again.
  3. I ain't rich, but Lord I'm free.
  4. He must have stolen some stars from the sky, and gave them to you to wear in your eyes.
  5. We've been in and out of love and in-between.
  6. With a little mouth to mouth she was ready to go.
  7. Well, thank you, could I drink you a buy?
  8. Even my heart was smart enough to stay behind.
  9. I don't worship the ground you walk on.
  10. A devil when she held me close, an angel when she smiled.
  11. Don't put it all on the line for just one roll.
  12. All the times before she'd break down and cry.
  13. There won't be no more next time doin' me wrong.
  14. Truth be known, you're dyin', cryin', lyin' there in bed.
  15. I miss picnics and blue jeans and buckets of beer.
  16. When you hear twin fiddles and a steel guitar, you're listening to the sound of the American heart.
  17. We tried to work it out a hundred times, ninety-nine it didn't work.
  18. I'm not the hero who will always save the day.
  19. Oh they just don't make hearts like hers anymore.
  20. My heart's the only part of me that's not in love with you.
  21. She said I don't recall seeing you around here you must be new to this town.
  22. But I never felt this feeling with anybody else.
  23. I got my fingers crossed that this goes on and on.
  24. I hit my knees and told God how much I hurt.
  25. I caught you lookin' at me when I looked at you. Yes I did, ain't that true?
  26. We'd each be hurting somebody else if we don't say our good-byes real fast.
  27. That's where I wanna raise the babies that we make.
  28. My heart's been on a long vacation, but now it's beating like a cha, cha, cha
  29. Today I'm right where Mama prayed I'd be.
  30. Some peddle steel whining like a whistle of an old freight train... 
Can you identify which songs these lines are from? 

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Time Cat

Time Cat. Lloyd Alexander. 1963. 206 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Gareth was a black cat with orange eyes.

Premise/plot: Jason is having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. But that begins to change when in the midst of complaining out loud to his cat, Gareth, Gareth surprises him by talking back. The cat reveals that he can visit nine different lives--any time, any country--and he can and will be happy to take Jason with him.

The times visited by Jason and Gareth: Egypt 2700 B.C., Rome and Britain 55 B.C., Ireland 411 A.D., Japan 998 A.D., Italy 1468, Peru 1555, The Isle of Man 1588, Germany 1600, America 1775.

If you're a cat lover who also enjoys time travel, this is a GREAT read.

My thoughts: I really, really, really found this to be a GREAT read. I found it entertaining and just FUN.

Here are some of my favorite quotes.
When I was a child, I always had cats. They seemed very fond of me. Then, after I became Pharaoh, they didn't seem to care for me half as much.
Jason thought for a while. "I don't know," he said at last. "Did you wear that headdress and that beard before you got to be king? That might have frightened them. And another thing," he added, "did you shout as much? Cats don't like being shouted at."
Neter-Khet brightened a little. "That might be it."
"Even so," Jason said, "when you weren't shouting, you'd think they'd have come around again."
"Oh, they did," said Neter-Khet. "But they'd never play or purr when I ordered."
"Did you expect them to?" Jason said. "No cat in the world will do that!"
"But I'm Pharaoh," Neter-Khet said. "I'm supposed to give orders."
"That doesn't mean anything to a cat," said Jason. "Didn't anybody ever tell you?"
"Nobody tells me," Neter-Khet said. "I tell them. Besides, they were my cats, weren't they?"
"In a way they were," Jason said, "and in a way they weren't. A cat can belong to you, but you can't own him. There's a difference." (19-20)
The only thing a cat worries about is what's happening right now. As we tell the kittens, you can only wash one paw at a time. (125)
Cats are good at being cats, and that's enough. (127)

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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